Archive Monthly Archives: August 2016

Can Managed Services Bridge the IT Skills Gap?

The IT skills gap phenomenon isn’t a new concept, but it has become increasingly evident in the past several years. Most small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have the same IT needs as larger organizations, but unfortunately lack the necessary internal bandwidth and resources. With new IT rules being written every day, complicated by the internet of Things (IoT) and an increasingly mobile workforce, IT professionals need to stay up-to-date and receive the latest certifications to cover their bases. As conditions continue to evolve, how can SMBs deal with the widening skills gap?

Did you know that 83 percent of organizations have voiced concern about their ability to find workers with the right IT skills and experience? These organizations need but don’t have a team of skilled IT specialists, who are dedicated to providing them with peace of mind and the expertise they need to grow profitability.

Closing the IT skills gap remains an on-going challenge for most SMBs because it can have a significant impact on the operations and effectiveness of their business. Due to the expertise that is now required to keep a company’s IT department up and running, it’s becoming more beneficial to outsource low-value, time-consuming tasks to a managed service provider (MSP). According to a 2012 study, businesses are seeking help. CompTIA’s International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study shows the trends.

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Everyone Should Know These Important Cybersecurity Basics

Cybersecurity is very complex and safeguarding data may mean different things from one company to another. In some cases, it involves hiring an entire team to take on potential attacks at every possible moment. In other cases, it involves implementing the basic necessities in order to protect your information. Security breaches happen so often that it’s imperative that companies do whatever it takes to defend their data. Unfortunately, not all companies have the budget nor the resources to do so.

If your company falls into one of those categories, then it’s important to at the very least, learn these basic steps to cybersecurity.

Educate Your Staff

Even if only some members of your staff are absolutely proficient in security language, it’s a good idea to have even the non-security folk have a general idea of what’s going on. Everyone should be on the same page when it comes to sharing files, using passwords, or exchanging information. It should be clear who the administrators are, who has access to which files, and what the procedure is when red flags show up in the system.

Be Aware of Your Data

How can you protect your data if you don’t know what it is you’re protecting? Does your company have sensitive information from your customers? A “secret” algorithm that’s your company’s money maker? Private information that’s stored on mobile devices? Whatever it is, those handling it (and even those not handling it) should know exactly what they have that’s so crucial to protect.

Take Passwords Seriously

Hackers are able to guess passwords very easily. If you don’t take password creation seriously, it could be one of the biggest mistakes your company makes. When a new software or program asks you to create a strong password, they mean it. And, don’t just choose numbers 1-9, either. Be creative and diverse with your passwords and also use different passwords for different things. Keep them written somewhere safe.

Constantly Update Your Antivirus

Most small businesses use an antivirus software when they start out. While antiviruses are good to use, they constantly need to be updated in order to keep up with the amount of potential attacks that are out there. One of the most basic pieces of advice is to not settle for the basic plan. Get your company what it needs to protect itself, even if it seems a little outrageous at the time.

Always Have a Backup Plan

It’s really great that you have a CISO to take care of everything, but what if he or she is out sick or needs to move to another state? What if a breach happens while your chief security officer is on vacation? Your company should have a backup plan or at least a certain protocol in place to deal with things if and when they happen. That being said, all companies should take the necessary measures to deal with things before they happen; something you’ll have to discuss with your CFO.

Ask Questions

Everything that there is to do with cybersecurity is pretty overwhelming for the average individual. If this topic isn’t your forte, then don’t be too shy to ask questions so that you can understand what you need to for your company. At the same time, don’t try to take complete initiative over your entire business’ security program if you’re not sure what to do. Get help from those who are professionals.

Consider Your Budget

One of the biggest problems companies face today with cybersecurity is whether or not to spend money on it. If you’re here now, then you’ve thankfully already understood the importance of allocating money towards protecting your data. However, we understand that budgeting is a huge concern for any company. But, there’s always a plan out there that’s suitable for everyone. If you need help finding yours, just ask us!

Are you familiar with the basics of cybersecurity but still need help? Then contact Smeester & Associates and sign up for a face to face meeting. 

 

Can You Spot The 13 Security Flaws In This Photo?

With all of the recent security breaches in the news, it’s easy to get caught up in the “technical” side of information security. Sure, there is a lot of work to be done to keep your information safe from hackers and malicious software programs, however, there’s another side to the coin, and that’s physical security. Many offices don’t enforce best practices for physical information security, and frankly may just not be aware of them. Are you and your employees educated on the best practices, both from a technology standpoint and from a physical standpoint?

So, time to put your knowledge to the test. Can you find the 13 security flaws in this picture?

Click Here to See Larger Image

So, think you spotted them all? Check your answers…

Many offices don't enforce best practices for physical information security, and frankly may just not be aware of them.

Many offices don’t enforce best practices for physical information security, and frankly may just not be aware of them. Use the link to view to view the big picture for easy viewing.

  1. Computer screen left on with no password protection – passerby has access to information on the device
  2. Unshredded files in trash could contain sensitive information
  3. File cabinet open – easy for someone to steal sensitive information
  4. Cell phone left out in the open – may display sensitive information and/or can be easily stolen
  5. Notes left on whiteboard – could contain confidential product updates, information or ideas
  6. Backpack left out and open
  7. Usernames and passwords left out in the open
  8. Key to locked drawer left out in the open – easy access to confidential files
  9. Calendar out in the open – could contain sensitive dates and/or information
  10. Credit card left out on desk
  11. Documents left out on desk that could contatin sensitive information
  12. USB drive left out in the open
  13. Wallet left on desk

While some of these may seem like obvious fixes, and some of these may seem redundant, it’s important for all of your employees to understand where company and/or personal data can be easily stolen. Maybe it’s a repairman in your office who sees the opportunity to steal confidential personal data, maybe it’s just an office visitor who glances over and sees confidential information out in the open. Either way, there needs to be someone to educate employees on security best practices, and for your clients.

The New Priorities for IT Outsourcing [CHART]

The IT services market is changing rapidly as technology continues to play an instrumental role in everyday business operations. This has caused small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to outsource many of their IT needs in order to cut costs and gain access to expertise they wouldn’t otherwise have. Instead of spending their time and budget managing everything in-house, SMBs are leveraging the IT skills and resources that managed services providers (MSPs) can offer. But what are the main priorities that most businesses are focusing on when outsourcing IT?

According to KPMG, we are entering a “radical new world of outsourcing.” As IT is increasingly being seen as a business enabler, SMBs are quickly recognizing the value of outsourcing their needs to an MSP.

Outsourcing is growing in its popularity and adoption, according to KPMG’s IT Outsourcing Service Provider Performance & Satisfaction Study, and businesses are choosing to pursue IT outsourcing.

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According to Continuum Managed Services, cost savings remains a top driver of IT outsourcing, but the trend is that the new priorities are geared more around quality improvement and access to skills. This changes the value proposition for outsourcing—shifting the emphasis toward delivering value-adding services and innovations in addition to cutting costs.

As the SMB tries to find the right service provider, Continuum says the decision makers are carefully thinking about how they can focus on core business objectives without worrying about their IT needs. In outsourcing to an MSP, they can experience more growth with proactive, predictable and preventative IT services.

  • First, the SMB can cut costs because they won’t have to onboard new employees through a costly training process, pay for their benefits, prevent turnover or worry about managing them properly.
  • Second, they can experience a much better remediation process when they have a team of engineers ready to respond to service requests, rather than only having a few in-house resources supporting the entire company’s staff.
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